As the Broncos go through a rocky navigation in Nathaniel Hackett‘s offense, they have used all their tight ends at various points this season. But the player viewed as the team’s top tight end coming into the season has fallen out of favor.
Denver made Albert Okwuegbunam a healthy scratch Monday night. That decision came after the third-year pass catcher played just 16 offensive snaps over the previous two weeks. Teams are looking into this situation, and Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 reports (via Twitter) Okwuegbunam has drawn trade interest. The Broncos have gotten calls about their tight end depth in general, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com notes, but Okwuegbunam is viewed as the main interest driver for teams.
This year’s Russell Wilson trade changed the Broncos’ tight end situation as well. The team included three-year starter Noah Fant in its compensation package. A month later, the Broncos selected Greg Dulcich in the third round. Dulcich missed the team’s first five games due to injury but returned against the Chargers, catching a first-quarter touchdown pass. Denver also extended fullback/tight end Andrew Beck, re-signed Eric Saubert and added Eric Tomlinson this offseason. All three have seen extensive time this season, with Beck and Tomlinson playing ahead of Okwuegbunam in Week 6.
A fourth-round pick out of Missouri in 2020, Okwuegbunam entered the NFL with chemistry with the Broncos’ then-starting quarterback (Drew Lock, also a Mizzou product). Despite an ACL tear that ended his rookie season after four games, Okwuegbunam made a marginal impact last season (33 catches, 330 yards, two touchdowns). Failure to sufficiently improve as a blocker has impacted the third-year pass catcher’s stock.
Okwuegbunam’s athletic profile likely intrigues teams. The 6-foot-5 tight end clocked a 4.49-second 40-yard dash time ahead of the 2020 draft. That came after he totaled 23 touchdown receptions during his three-year college career. His rookie contract runs through the 2023 season. With Dulcich positioned to become the Broncos’ top receiving tight end going forward, it would seem the team would explore the Okwuegbunam trade interest ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.